Summer is here, and the dangers of heat have settled in over South Texas.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 6,000 people each year seek urgent medical treatment for heat-related illnesses.
Since heat will be a part of our lives over the upcoming months, it’s important to be respectful of the dangers of heat and sun exposure. This is particularly important for people who work outside or play sports and engage in outdoor exercise during the summer months. Even a relaxing day at the beach can pose a danger without proper care and precautions.
Use these tips to help you stay safe and beat the heat:
1) Avoid going outside during the hottest part of the day (afternoon). Schedule outdoor activities in the early morning or evening if possible.
2) If you must be outside, be sure to drink plenty of water or clear liquids. Don’t wait until you are thirsty before drinking, because that means you are likely already becoming dehydrated. Avoid any alcoholic beverages, since they cause you to lose even more fluids.
3) Weigh yourself before and after any outdoor exercise. For every pound of weight loss, that is one pint (16 ounces) of fluid that must be replaced.
4) Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 30 protection 30 minutes before going outside, and seek shade when possible. Sunburn is not only painful, but it also damages the skin and can increase your risk of skin cancer.
5) Take extra precautions with children and the elderly, since they can become dehydrated more easily and are more prone to heat-related illness.
Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms caused by over-activity in the heat with depletion of electrolytes. If you develop heat cramps, stop your activity, find a cool shady spot to rest, and rehydrate with water or a sports beverage. Do not resume activity outside for several hours.
Heat exhaustion is a possible precursor of heatstroke caused by prolonged heat exposure and insufficient replacement of fluids. Symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and heavy sweating. The skin may feel cool and clammy, the breathing rate may be increased, and the pulse may be rapid and thready. Heat exhaustion can be critical particularly in the young and elderly. In the event of heat exhaustion, the person should be transported to a cool (air-conditioned) location out of the sun, encouraged to drink lots of cool nonalcoholic beverages, and perhaps given a cool shower or sponge bath. Consider seeking medical attention for heat exhaustion, particularly if the symptoms do not improve after the above measures.
Heatstroke is a medical condition caused by the body’s inability to properly regulate its temperature. The person with heat stroke will typically stop sweating, and the body temperature can rise to over 106 degrees. The skin will be hot and dry. Headache, dizziness, and nausea often progress to confusion or unconsciousness. Anyone suspected of heatstroke should seek immediate medical attention in an emergency department, calling 911 if necessary. Untreated, heatstroke can be deadly.
Enjoy a safe and healthy summer by working and playing smart in the heat.
Emergi-Care is a fully licensed, freestanding critical care and trauma clinic in Houston, Texas, providing the NASA area community with a convenient alternative to overcrowded hospitals and urgent care centers by delivering fast, friendly, high-quality medical treatment in a comfortable neighborhood setting.
Open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: 2409 Falcon Pass, Suite 100, Houston, TX 77062
Phone: (281) 572-5505